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Shark Bites: Hindsight in Harlem

[It's the time again when we turn to the fine folks at NYC property research site PropertyShark to dissect one of their many maps. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Matthew Haines...]

When I arrived in Harlem five years ago, there were large wasteland of empty lots and abandoned shells. At the time you could be a five story, 25x80 shell for $300-400K. Cheap, but who in their right mind would invest on a block like that?

But now as I walk along Eighth Avenue between 116th and 122nd (or along Madison Avenue in the same range) all I see is new developments, completed or nearing completion. And with new developments come new commercial spaces and stores like CVS, the UPS Store, and full-size groceries. Looking back I see that these areas are the ones that have turned around the most.

I bought on a solidly residential block. I paid more, but it seemed like the safer investment. What I didn't realize is that the big developers need uninterrupted, clear space. They can't plow money into a block full of run-down brownstones. Now when I hear about the South Bronx, Long Island City, Bushwick, and all of the other "next new things," I always ask myself: is there room for the big developers to move in and really change things?
· PropertyShark Maps [PropertyShark]